After three tries, the Arellano Chiefs finally barged into the winning column, and they did it at the expense of a powerhouse team.
Led by Filipino-Canadian James Forrester’s double-double performance of 18 points and eleven boards, the Arellano Chiefs drubbed Letran, 77-67 for their first win in Season 88 of the NCAA at the FilOil Flying V Arena.
The Chiefs, who gave new coach Koy Banal his first win at the helm, got hold of the lead, 18-17, on a jumper by Teresito Valera in the dying seconds of the first quarter and never let go.
Things almost got out of hand in the second quarter when Letran team captain Jam Cortes hit Arellano’s Nicole Bangga’s neck with his elbow during a boxout play. The officials, upon conferring with the commissioner, immediately threw Cortes out of the playing court. Cortes is expected to be suspended for Letran’s next outing against College of Saint Benilde on Monday.
Jonathan Belorio, who is also a vital piece for Letran, was also ejected from the playing court with less than five minutes left in the third quarter after incurring his second flagrant foul. Belorio is also facing suspension because of his actions.
The Chiefs started to pull away in the second, posting an 11-point edge at the half behind rookie Bangga’s nine points.
“ I wanted the players to feel good coming into today’s game. I dressed up like this dahil aside from didirecho ako sa B-MEG game sa MOA, I want to wear off the good vibes to the team,” said Banal, who was wearing the standard shirt-and-tie outfit for the Llamados coaching staff.
“We didn’t even think na ma-t-thrown out yung dalawang players nila. Kasama kasi sa game plan namin yung dalawang, naging advantage tuloy sa amin.”
The Chiefs led by as much as 14 points, 51-37, midway through the third quarter on a basket by Prince Caperal.
But Letran, behind their Kevin Alas, Kevin Racal, and Mark Cruz, clawed back in the fourth quarter, putting the Knights to within two points, 66-64, with over three minutes remaining. But an 11-0 run by the Chiefs through the collective efforts of Rocky Acidre and Forrester closed out the game in Arellano’s favor.
Apart from the loss of Cortes and Belorio, Letran missed the services of Raymund Almazan, Joel Gabriel and Jamil Gabawan due to various injuries.
The Chiefs are now out of the cellar with a 1-3 win-loss card while the Knights, after an 80-74 opening day win over San Sebastian, have dropped their last two games against Perpetual and Arellano for a 1-2 slate.
Arellano (77) — Forrester 18, Bangga 13, Cadavis 11, Pinto 10, Acidre 9, Zulueta 7, Caperal 5, Salcedo 2, Valera 2, Hernandez 0.
Letran (67) — K. Alas 22, Racal 15, Cruz 12, J. Alas 8, Belorio 5, Lituania 2, Cortes 2, Cudal 1, Olotu 0, Pantin 0, Luib 0.
Quarters: 21-17, 39-28, 60-51, 77-67.